Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bad Bribery

I know that bribery is not good parenting yet I rely on it heavily these days. When you're parenting a willful preschooler is bribery not the only thing that really works? If there is a better option, someone, please enlighten me.

I find myself bribing Eloise to do the normal things that she used to just do. "If you promise to eat all of your breakfast you can watch tv," or "If you don't whine while we do ___ I'll give you a treat." The problem with bribery maybe isn't the bribing itself but what I use to bribe (ahem food and tv) that makes it bad. I know I shouldn't reward with food but who doesn't love a cookie for a job well done, even if I am rewarding otherwise normal behaviour. Eloise also responds exceptionally well to the dreaded "1-2-3" countdown, which is basically a bribe, and it's been so effective that I can't remember the last time I actually got to three and had to come up with an "or else."

It's not unusual for parents to bribe for everything from good to learned behaviour, like potty training. When Eloise was potty training we used M&Ms as a bribe and it worked like a charm. The next level of bribery will start as soon as the baby arrives in an effort to get Eloise to stay in her own bed. I'm going to try a sticker chart that will earn a reward once complete and currently, Eloise seems to be on board with this. She has even announced that her reward is going to be a Barbie. Kid, if you sleep in your own bed all night for a full week I will even drive you down to Target in Bellingham where they have an entire Barbie department.

Maybe bribery isn't all bad, maybe it's just parenting?

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